Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Euthanasia: Canada, Conscience and Coercion.

This article was published by Nancy Valko on her blog on February 18, 2020

Nancy Valko
By Nancy Valko

A January 22, 2020 CNA article titled “Perform Euthanasia or Lose Government Funding”, Canadian Hospice Told” revealed that a secular Canadian hospice was at risk of losing its government funding over its refusal to euthanize patients who request an “assisted death.”

How could this happen?

First of all, Canadian health care (known to Canadians as “medicare”) is 69% publicly funded for “medically necessary” care administered by the 13 provinces and territories with different rules. 31% of Canadian health care costs are paid by the private sector for services not covered or only partially covered by medicare, such as prescription drugs, dentistry and optometry.

The problems started when the Canadian Supreme Court legalized MAiD (Medical Assitance in Dying” in 2015.

Soon after, the province of Quebec drew up guidelines for MAiD and made “euthanasia kits” for lethal injections available to every doctor in Quebec. Most MAiD deaths in Canada are done by lethal injection.

In September 2016, about three months after euthanasia became legal in Canada, British Columbia's Fraser Health introduced a new policy which required all hospices receiving more than 50% of provincial funding for their beds to offer euthanasia to their residents. However, the hospice, in question, is operated by the non-profit organization the Delta Hospice Society, which is opposed to Canada’s MAiD

One doctor said that there are “‘strong lobbies’ backing this new effort to expand MAiD into additional institutions which receive provincial funding, including faith-based hospitals or hospices.” (Emphasis added)

How One Catholic Health Care Facility Responded To MAiD

Unfortunately in 2018, the Catholic Covenant Health system in the province of Alberta, Canada released a revised MAID policy:

“after consultations with more than 100 individuals and groups including doctors, Catholic bishops, Alberta Health Services, the Alberta government, patient advisers, families, ethicists and community members. 
Under the policy, witnessing and signing of legal documents and assessments of eligibility can take place on Covenant Health sites. Patients deemed eligible for MAID would still be transferred to other facilities.” (Emphasis added)
A current check of the Covenant website on MAiD shows no change in policy.

The Canadian “Slippery Slope” Continues

In January, 2020 the Halifax Group, published “MAiD Legislation at a Crossroads: Persons with Mental Disorders as Their Sole Underlying Medical Condition” that supported MAiD not only for non-dying persons ” experiencing enduring, intolerable and irremediable suffering from physical conditions” but also for persons who have “a mental illness as their sole underlying medical condition.” (Emphasis added)

This month, The Expert Advisory Group responded to the Halifax group, warning that the Canadian medical suicide law is the “most permissive in the world”.

The Effect of MAiD on Doctors and Nurses

Last year, The Canadian Catholic Nurses joined the National Association of Catholic Nurses in opposing the American Nurses Association’s draft position for neutrality on physician-assisted suicide (unfortunately later approved) and gave a chilling look at what may be our future if legalized assisted suicide is not opposed:

“Our association formed in 2018 primarily in response to Canadian nurses’ moral distress regarding the nation-wide legalization of medically induced death.
Professional associations and licensing bodies across Canada endorsed the legal changes, requiring conscientious objectors to participate in “Medical Assistance in Dying” by “effective referral” to facilitate access at the patient’s request. Faith-based health care facilities are pressured to participate. Nurse practitioners are trained and qualified to prescribe and administer lethal doses of medication to patients that they or others deem eligible for euthanasia.”


The Canadian experience with assisted suicide and euthanasia provides evidence for your continued resistance to the practice.

Unlike Oregon, Canada has not experienced a growth in palliative care along with the rapid expansion of induced death. Instead, we experience ongoing demands for access to lethal injections for new categories of patients, including “mature minors;” those who write advanced directives; and those whose mental illness is the sole condition underlying their request.”

A 2018 study “Medical assistance in dying (MAiD): Canadian nurses’ experiences” stated that:

“It is vital to understand how MAiD is influencing nurses in the Canadian context to ensure a smooth transition of this end‐of‐life care option across settings and communities. ” (Emphasis added)
The study acknowledges some nurses’ “moral distress” but describes “how participating in, or declining to participate in MAiD is shaping the participants’ perceptions of nursing as a profession“. The authors suggest promoting concepts like “Providing holistic care without judgment, Advocating choice, Supporting a good death” to positively reinforce that MAiD was “not a significant departure from their professional goals”. (Emphasis added)

(Ironically, 77% doctors in Laval, Canada refused to provide MAiD 18 months after legalization with the most common reason that MAiD was “too much of an emotional burden to bear”.)


Last year it was reported that “More than one in every 100 deaths in Canada is administered by a doctor“ but that even this number is likely higher because parts of Canada currently do not report such deaths.

The numbers are also likely to get higher as the Canadian euthanasia laws expand the eligibility criteria and health care professionals worry about losing their jobs if they refuse to participate.

Unfortunately, most of the US mainstream media ignores the Canadian euthanasia experience while approvingly reporting on the increasing number of US states legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

What all of us need to understand is that the legalized killing of any patient ultimately leads to the destruction not only of the patient but also of a trustworthy health care system and a truly safe and civilized society.


gadfly said...

"...that they or others deem eligible..." Wait, I thought this was supposed to be a person's own request. That means the nurses and others are deciding for the patient already. This means the practice of crypthanasia is alive and well. It just needs an overt rubber stamp, since the practice 'is already happening so we need to control it...' Wow.

Carol O'Brien said...

If society does not cherish ALL life, why would it protect ANY life?

Carol O'Brien said...

After reading this, I am destroying my "advance health care directives", that all health care providers basically push every patient to sign.

Fritzi57 said...

And Although I pointed out to my colleagues (we are all nurses) that this legalization of "assisted suicide" would be just the beginning of a dangerous trend, which would end up with anyone being enabled to murder someone else (approved by the law!) all I got was dismissive and mocking responses. Welp, here we are, to no one's surprise. Not mine anyway. Some weeks ago, a patient on our ward was embroiled in a stand-off with MAiD: her son wanted her dead, she wasn't ready to go. I myself was being pressured to get all the paperwork organised. I refused and told my manager and educator that I wouldn't do it. When the educator said I I had to do was facilitate the paperwork, I emailed her and said I would not, in any way, shape or form, collude in killing a patient. Even the doctors wouldn't assess the woman. I never learned of the end result unfortunately.